Heaslip now a master captain who has learned leadership well
FRENCH NOTES:The Leinster number 8 has benefited from strong role models
One approach to skills learning is to provide a player with a perfect example, then have the athlete copy the action. Repetition is the mother of all learning.
The skill is repeated until “muscle memory” makes the action automatic. Like breathing, the trained athlete performs the skill without thinking. Leadership is a skill that can be learnt in exactly the same way. Generations of Irish rugby captains have been leadership role models to the next generation. Willie John McBride, Fergus Slattery, Ciarán Fitzgerald, Mick Galway, Keith Wood, Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and now Jamie Heaslip, is a lineage of captaincy that is equal to the best in the world.
Research from Australian Rules found that many highly successful AFL players have significant male role models in their teenage years. That does not mean that the male role model were great sportsmen, it meant that the role model gave them encouragement to peruse their dream. They provided leadership. Sport is a mirror for life and the young always mimic their role models.
While our parents and grandparents are the first and most important leaders in our world, the workplace is also an environment where experienced colleagues will influence the inexperienced.
A major influence in my life was one of my first bosses. Brother Joseph McMahon was the headmaster of Sydney’s leading rugby school, St Joseph’s College.
I had just returned from a year playing rugby in Wales and travelling across Europe and America. I was 24 and stony broke. With the last of my money I had bought a 1964 General Motors Holden. It was hand painted with blue pool paint and had cost me $300. Looking back, I was ripped off.
A friend had recommended me for a position at the school. As I drove into the school for my interview the rear axle of the Holden broke. I entered the headmaster’s office with my hands covered in grease and more than a little pissed off. Later, as I walked to the bus stop, I thought “what a waste of time that has been.”
I got the job. Joe lumbered me with more responsibility than I could have imagined. He encouraged leadership within me that I did not know I had.
Fours years later, despite enjoying my time in education, I had decided that I needed to challenge myself in other areas. I was extremely reluctant to tell Joe I was leaving after all the faith he had placed in me. I should have known better. Not only did he encouraged me to chase my ambitions, he gave me the confidence to take the risks required to achieve them.